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COVID-19: No fines issued for over 1,400 travellers who may have ignored coronavirus quarantine rules

Police have taken no action against more than 1,400 foreign travellers who may have ignored COVID-19 quarantine rules – because they couldn’t find them

When officers called at their homes to check they were self-isolating they got no response, or there was no record of them at the address.

Anyone returning to the UK from a trip to most countries – with a few exceptions – should quarantine for 14 days or risk a £1,000 fine.

In 586 cases, officers called “only to find that nobody with the relevant name lived at that address so no further enforcement action could be taken”.

“(Another) 862 cases resulted in no answer at all when officers attended an address, with no further enforcement action possible,” said the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).

Since early June, police in England had checked 7,040 travellers and found most were complying with the rules or were persuaded to do so. Officers fined 223 suspects for not quarantining.

Since mid-June, police in England and Wales have fined 641 people for not wearing facemasks, mostly in shops and a quarter on public transport.

Fines of £10,000 were issued 136 times for breaches of the 30-plus restrictions on unlicensed music events, private parties, protests and other gatherings.

The NPCC said that since the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown in late March, police in England and Wales had issued just under 25,000 fines in all, with the vast majority to people aged 18-39.

NPCC chair Martin Hewitt said: “Thank you to the vast majority of the public for sticking to the rules and following the guidance in place to limit the spread of the virus.

“Police will play their part to help the public navigate and understand changes in their area, particularly as we approach the festive period.

“The national lockdown periods in England and Wales have seen increased enforcement activity by forces, targeted towards those who commit the most serious breaches, risking public health.

“Enforcement doesn’t and shouldn’t always equal police involvement or the issuance of a fixed penalty notice.

“Individuals, businesses and a range of agencies all have a responsibility to ensure the virus is suppressed.

“We cannot waste time endlessly encouraging those still intent on breaking the rules after nine months of this pandemic, and they should expect to see officers move more quickly towards issuing FPNs where it is appropriate.”

The NPCC also said that recorded crime had dropped again last month, though not as steeply as in previous months during the pandemic.

Overall crime in October was 9% down compared with the same period last year, with an 18% fall in serious violence and car crime, while burglary fell 23% and shoplifting 26%.

Assaults on emergency workers increased again by 15%, but the rise wasn’t as big as in previous months.

It’s thought most of the assaults were on police officers and included spitting by suspects claiming to be infected with COVID-19.

Mr Hewitt said: “Assaults on emergency workers who do crucial work for the good of us all are deplorable.

“This is an offence and those caught will be prosecuted with the support of the Crown Prosecution Service.

“Officers and staff are out in communities, working in challenging circumstances, and I am grateful for their continued hard work.”

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